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“High impact weather” has gripped much of the world so far this year, the UN weather agency, WMO, reported on Friday, with “dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record high heat and wildfires in Australia, heavy rains in parts of South America, and heavy snow on the Alps and Himalayas.
The WMO assessment of January’s weather, published on Friday, describes it as “a month of extremes”, with large parts of North America gripped by bitterly cold temperatures, caused by the influence of the Polar Vortex.
“Disturbances in the jet stream and the intrusion of warmer mid-latitude air masses can alter the structure and the dynamics of the Polar Vortex, sending Arctic air south into middle latitudes and bringing warmer air into the Arctic. This is not a new phenomenon, although there is increasing research into how it is being impacted by climate change”, the agency said…
Parts of the European Alps saw record snowfalls earlier in January. In Hochfilzen in the Tirol region of Austria, more than 451 centimetres of snow fell in the first 15 days, an event statistically only expected once a century. Australia had its warmest January on record, according to its Bureau of Meteorology. The month saw a new series of heatwaves unprecedented in their scale and duration, said the UN weather agency. Overall rainfall was 38% below average for January.
Heat records tumbled in Chile. A weather station in the capital Santiago set a new record of 38.3°C on 26 January. In other parts of central Chile, temperatures topped 40°C. Northeast Argentina, and the adjacent parts of Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm of rainfall, setting a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm, recorded in January 1994, according to the national meteorological service, SMN Argentina… (UN, Feb 1, 2019)